05 July, 2007

Beverly Sills, 1929-2007

The irrepressible diva succumbed to lung cancer on Monday, July 2d. If memory serves, I first heard her on a Met radio broadcast in the early 80's and subsequently listened to many, many of her recordings over the years. Although in later years her voice began to show some strain from constant performance, her earlier performances were magnificent (I have the original cast recording of Moore's "Ballad of Baby Doe" and it is simply delightful). It was not without cause that she is credited with bringing American opera singers to the notice of both European and American opera companies, opening doors for young American-trained singers in what had previously been an arena dominated by Europeans. Her leadership at the New York City Opera was instrumental in rescuing a company in distress and turning it into a viable business. In addition to her arts and business acumen, she was apparently a truly generous and vital person. Her first autobiography, "Bubbles: a Self-Portrait", is an enjoyable read, rich with anecdotes and charming insight into the trials, tribulations, and joys of both a professional singer and real human being. She is survived by two children (by her first husband), three stepchildren (of her second husband, Peter Greenough, who died last year), a brother, and the enduring legacy of her contribution to the world of opera and the arts.

New York Times Obituary (from which the image accompanying this post is taken)

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